More details are emerging on the now-famous mountain lion's incredible journey from the Upper Plains to southern Connecticut, where it was ultimately killed by a sport utility vehicle on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford in June.
New York state's Department of Environmental Conservation confirms the wild cougar that trekked 1,500 miles from South Dakota to Connecticut -- having been spotted numerous times in Greenwich earlier this summer -- passed through the upstate New York town of Lake George in 2010, according to the Adirondack Explorer magazine.
The magazine's editor, Phil Brown, reports on the Explorer's blog, Outtakes, and the Albany Times Union's Adirondack Dispatches blog that the mountain lion left hair and prints in the snow.
The blog reports:
"Cindy Eggleston spotted a cougar in her backyard in the town of Lake George on December 16. The next day, her husband, David Eggleston, who is a retired DEC colonel, and Environmental Conservation Officer Louis Gerrain followed the animal's tracks and collected hair samples from what appeared to be a bedding site.
"DNA analysis of the hairs indicated that they came from the same cougar that was killed by a car on a highway in Milford, Connecticut, on June 11. Previously, DNA tests of the Connecticut cougar showed that it was the same cougar that had been tracked in Minnesota and Wisconsin and that it came from a breeding population in the Black Hills of South Dakota."
The mountain lion sighting may be the first in New York state since the late 1800s, according to the state DEC.
According to conservation officials in Connecticut and New York, there were recorded sightings of the same mountain lion in northern Wisconsin in December 2009, Minnesota in May 2010 and, this year, in late May and early June in Greenwich.
The 140-pound mountain lion was nicknamed the St. Croix cougar for the county in Wisconsin where it was first seen. The 1,500-mile journey is more than double the distance of the next longest recorded mountain lion trek in U.S. history, which was 640 miles.
Reports of mountain lion sightings in Greenwich have persisted despite the June death of the cougar, which officials say is the same one spotted here months ago.
Most recently, in early August, reported sightings at The Chieftains gated community in the backcountry prompted the property managers to warn residents to take precautions.
A letter sent to residents of the community that abuts wildlife conservation areas urged them to take care, especially with young children and dogs. The managers also warned residents about walking during dawn or dusk when mountain lions would be particularly active.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it was aware of the latest sighting, but there was no evidence supporting the existence of another mountain lion.
The department doesn't believe the state has a native population of mountain lions, but some wildlife experts say there's a chance a small group of mountain lions lives in the state.